OLEAN — Two more Cattaraugus County residents have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, increasing the total to 12.
Four county residents are now hospitalized with the virus — three at Olean General Hospital, including one in the ICU on a ventilator — and one at Buffalo General Medical Center.
There have been no COVID-19 deaths reported in Cattaraugus County, according to county Public Health Director Dr. Kevin Watkins.
A woman from the southeastern part of the county with no travel history to areas of widespread coronavirus was the 11th positive COVID-19 case. Her symptoms started as post-nasal drip and a headache and she was initially diagnosed at an acute care facility with sinusitis.
She later came down with a fever, cough and shortness of breath and was tested for COVID-19. The results came back positive late Tuesday.
A man from the northwestern part of the county, a health care worker who was in close contact with a positive COVID-19 individual, was the 12th county resident to come down with the virus. His symptoms included post-nasal drip, a cough and fatigue, Watkins said. He was tested Monday and the results were returned late Tuesday.
“Both are now resting at their homes in quarantine with their families,” Watkins told the Olean Times Herald. “Our staff are now tracing their contacts and the places they have visited.”
The families will be checked in on each day by a Health Department nurse, who will record their temperatures and observe their symptoms.
There have been six COVID-19 positive residents from the southeastern part of the county, four from the northwestern section and one each from the southwestern and northeastern parts of the county.
Testing has ramped up as more positive cases have been reported and their family members and contacts are tested.
As of Wednesday, Cattaraugus County had tested 323 residents, with 281 tests returning negative results. There are 110 in mandatory quarantine. Three people have recovered.
Watkins said a number of calls have been received by the Health Department regarding the number of residents with positive COVID-19 tests. The state COVID-19 map indicates three or four more cases than the county map.
That’s because the state COVID-19 tracking map has indicated some former county residents with coronavirus as still residing in this county.
Several Erie County residents were mistakenly identified as Cattaraugus County residents because their physicians had not updated their address information, Watkins said.
“We have transferred those cases to Erie County,” Watkins said.
Wakins said that while Cattaraugus County is still reporting a low number of COVID-19 cases, “We can expect there is widespread COVID-19 in our community. Stay at home and don’t come out until we can get better control over what is happening.”
Watkins cited a state report that showed 86% of those who have died from the coronavirus had underlying health conditions. Sixty-three percent of roughly 5,500 deaths in New York have been people over age 70. About 25% of the county’s residents are age 65 or older.
Underlying health conditions which affect a large number of county residents include hypertension or high blood pressure from obesity, smoking, alcohol, age, diabetes, coronary artery disease, dementia, kidney disease, COPD, cancer and congestive heart failure.
Those with underlying health conditions are likely to have more severe or critical cases of COVID-19, Watkins said.
In addition, African Americans appear to have more severe cases of adverse conditions from COVID-19, Watkins said.
They have a high rate of underlying health conditions, and are more likely not to have health insurance and often have a more difficult time getting tested.
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)